Secretary-General's press conference following the opening of the ITU Telecom World 2009 - with Mr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-GEneral of ITU; Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; and Mr. Jianzhou Wang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, China Mobile Communications Corporation
Geneva, Switzerland, 5 October 2009SG: Thank you. Dr. Touré, I would like to highly commend your leadership and vision to make this ITU Telecom World 2009 a great success, and I count on your leadership in working together to connect the world and to connect communities, connect schools, many issues. Ladies and gentlemen, I came to this conference with a very high expectation and sense of happiness. But at this time, at this moment, I am sitting with a heavy mind, with a sadness, if you allow me, I would like to briefly at the outset issue an official statement in my name on this terrorist attack against the World Food Programme which happened in Islamabad, Pakistan. [Five] United Nations staff were killed and many injured. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to issue my statement:
I condemn in the strongest terms the attack at the Office of the World Food Programme in Islamabad, Pakistan. Such an attack is unjustifiable. This is a terrible tragedy for the United Nations and for the whole humanitarian community in Pakistan. This is a heinous crime committed against those who have been working tirelessly to assist the poor and the vulnerable on the frontlines of hunger and other human suffering in Pakistan. My deepest condolences go to the colleagues fallen in the line of duty for noble causes and their families and friends. Thank you very much.
Now, I will say a few words. ITU plays a key role in bringing together governments, industries and other leading edge voices to address the most pressing issues facing a global information society. ITU's Telecom World event will highlight the power of ICTs and innovation to change a world divided between those with and those without equitable access to information. The linkages between access to information and development are clear with ICTS enabling access to education, to health and to opportunity. This event, set against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, will also focus on the role of ICTS in creating new investment opportunities, in facilitating fair trade, and in stimulating markets. I am pleased to see that our youth -- drivers of innovation and change -- will be active and important participants in discussions this way. As we rapidly approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, we are going to need all the power of ICTS and of the young people, who will inherit the MDG outcomes, to help us achieve those goals. Indeed, the next four days represent a truly unique opportunity for leaders across diverse sectors and of all ages to build a partnership that addresses some of the biggest challenges facing the United Nations and its stakeholders, not the least of which is climate change. Just two weeks ago, I convened a UN summit meeting on climate change in New York. We welcomed the participation of 101 Heads of State and Government from 163 countries, the largest ever summit on the climate crisis. In New York, we were able to mobilize a political impetus and vision on ways forward. Landmark commitments were announced by some countries, including Japan, China and the European Union. I trust that the momentum we gave in New York will lead to success in Copenhagen in December. We must seal the deal in Copenhagen and I count on your support at this event and over the coming weeks as we take important steps towards that goal. Finally, I would like to applaud the good example set by ITU in putting into practice various initiatives aimed at mitigating the organization's own environmental impact. ITU's experience, working with the socially responsible private sector partners to launch climate friendly initiatives, is a positive step forward for the United Nations and for the global community. Thank you very much.
Q: I do profoundly apologize for going away from protocol, but given the gravity of what happened this morning in Islamabad, I do have to ask you, Mr. Secretary-General, how this will affect the United Nations operations, whether you are planning to withdraw some of your staff and so forth. Again, I apologize for this but I think it is important.
SG: My simple answer to that question is that we will continue our humanitarian assistance to the Pakistani people. There are more than two million displaced persons who need urgent humanitarian assistance. As you may remember, recently I have appointed a Special Envoy for humanitarian assistance and development, and I have also appointed a Special Advisor for addressing all these political and security issues. Our Special Envoy and Advisor are working tirelessly, together with many United Nations agencies, World Food Programme, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP and all other agencies will continue to provide such very important assistance.
I again strongly condemn those heinous crimes perpetuated against humanitarian workers. The United Nations and many humanitarian workers, NGOs, they are there to help their people. They need our assistance. They are very vulnerable people. We have to help them, so that they can be re-integrated and they can return to their own homes. That is our commitment and we will continue.
Q: My question is to the Secretary-General. Secretary-General, it is connected to connectivity and the spread of news. You have been urged by many quarters to move the Goldstone report to the Security Council. What will you do about it? And two, the second point is: what is your assessment of the current dangers of the escalation in the Middle East with the problems of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings. Thank you.
SG: I understand. I entertained the first question, because it happened this morning and the magnitude and the seriousness of the crimes was just intolerable and unjustifiable. But my understanding is that our press conference at this time is not meant to be open for all other questions. I know that there are hundreds of questions, which may be posed to me. I think the limited time would better be served for the common purpose, for other participants here. If you excuse me.